Rock Tech Lithium Inc. and Electra Battery Materials Corporation have entered into a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on lithium recycling initiatives in North America. The partnership focuses on supplying recycled lithium from Electra’s Ontario battery recycling operations for upgrading to battery-grade lithium chemicals at Rock Tech’s refineries.
The collaboration aims to create a comprehensive, sustainable closed-loop service for recycling lithium-ion battery scrap, end-of-life batteries and black mass. This initiative is expected to facilitate a circular lithium value chain in North America.
Trent Mell, CEO of Electra, highlighted the partnership’s significance: “Partnering with Rock Tech complements our recycling strategy by allowing us to further upgrade recycled lithium into a battery-grade product.”
Klaus Schmitz, Rock Tech’s COO, expressed the company’s long-term vision, noting the role of Electra as a crucial partner in realizing a localized circular lithium value chain in Ontario and North America. “Our collaboration unlocks an important lithium sourcing option and ensures continuous long-term supply for our plants,” Schmitz said.
Under the agreement, Electra will supply lithium recovered from its black mass refinery north of Toronto to Rock Tech for further processing. Rock Tech will then upgrade this lithium to battery-grade lithium chemicals at its planned lithium converters. This step is essential to achieve the quality and purity required for the lithium to be reused in new battery manufacturing.
The processing of material is expected to begin in 2026, with supply anticipated to increase as Electra expands its battery materials park. The companies also plan to explore additional collaboration opportunities, including licensing Electra’s technology for use in Europe and possibly co-locating future battery recycling and lithium refining plants.
Rock Tech is developing a refining platform for both primary spodumene concentrate and recycled lithium from battery and black mass recycling operations. It is currently constructing a lithium conversion facility in Germany and proposing a second converter in Ontario, Canada.
Electra, in parallel, is building a cobalt sulphate refinery in Temiskaming Shores, Ontario. This initiative is part of a broader effort to co-locate cobalt, nickel, manganese and black mass refining within a complex. Electra is also testing its proprietary process for recycling black mass, aiming to recover various commercial products, including lithium carbonate and graphite, the company said.
In May 2023, Electra announced plans for a joint venture with the Three Fires Group to source and process lithium-ion battery waste. This waste, generated by battery cell manufacturers, electric vehicle producers and energy storage systems, will be processed in southern Ontario to produce black mass feed material for Electra’s refinery.